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EPITAPH. THOUGH short thy span, God's unimpeach'd decrees, Which made that shorten'd span one long disease, Yet, merciful in chastening, gave thee scope For mild, redeeming virtues, faith and hope : Meek resignation; pious charity :
5 And, since this world was not the world for thee, Far from thy path removed, with partial care, Strife, glory, gain, and pleasure's flowery snare, Bade earth's temptations pass thee harmless by, And fix'd on heaven thine unreverted eye! 10
0! mark'd from birth, and nurtured for the skies ! In youth with more than learning's wisdom wise ! As sainted martyrs, patient to endure ! Simple as unwean'd infancy and pure! Pure from all stain! (save that of human clay, 15 Which Christ's atoning blood hath wash'd away !) By mortal sufferings now no more opprest, Mount, sinless spirit, to thy destined rest! While I, reversed our nature's kindlier doom, Pour forth a father's sorrows on thy tomb.
FROM "THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.”
BREATHES there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land !
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
6 From wandering on a foreign strand !
THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL."
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim ;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour'd, and unsung.
O Caledonia! stern and wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child !.
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood,
Land of my sires! what mortal hand
Can e'er untie the filial band,
That knits me to thy rugged strand !
Still, as I view each well-known scene,
Think what is now, and what hath been, 25
Seems as, to me, of all bereft,
Sole friends thy woods and streams were left;
And thus I love them better still,
Ev'n in extremity of ill.
By Yarrow's streams still let me stray,
30 Though none should guide my feeble
Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break,
Although it chill my wither'd cheek;
Still lay my head by Teviot Stone,
Though there, forgotten and alone,
35 The bard may draw his parting groan.
-Though deep the evening fell,
Still rose the battle's deadly swell,
For still the Scots, around their King,
Unbroken, fought in desperate ring.
Where's now their victor vaward wing,
Where Huntley, and where Home ?-
O, for a blast of that dread horn,
On Fontarabian echoes borne,
That to King Charles did come,
When Rowland brave, and Olivier,
And every paladin and peer,
On Ronscesvalles died !
Such blast might warn them not in vain,
To quit the plunder of the slain,
And turn the doubtful day again,
While yet on Flodden side,
Afar, the Royal Standard flies,
And round it toils, and bleeds, and dies,
Our Caledonian pride!
The English shafts in volleys hail'd,
In headlong charge their horse assail'd;
Front, flank, and rear, the squadrons sweep
To break the Scottish circle deep,
That fought around their King.
But yet, though thick the shafts as snow,
Though charging knights like whirlwinds go,
Though bill-men ply the ghastly blow,
Unbroken was the ring;
The stubborn spearmen still made good
Their dark impenetrable wood,
30 Each stepping where his comrade stood,
The instant that he fell. No thought was there of dastard flight; Link'd in the serried phalanx tight, Groom fought like noble, squire like knight, 35
As fearlessly and well;
Till utter darkness closed her wing
O'er their thin host and wounded King.
Then skilful Surrey's sage commands
Led back from strife his shatter'd bands; 40
And from the charge they drew,
As mountain-waves, from wasted lands,
Sweep back to ocean blue.
Then did their loss his foemen know,
Their King, their Lords, their mightiest low, 45
They melted from the field, as snow,
When streams are swoln and south winds blow,
Dissolves in silent dew.
Tweed's echoes heard the ceaseless plash,
While many a broken band,
50 Disorder'd, through her currents dash,
To gain the Scottish land;
To town and tower, to down and dale,
To tell red Flodden's dismal tale,
And raise the universal wail.
Tradition, legend, tune and song,
Shall many an age that wail prolong:
Still from the sire the son shall hear
Of the stern strife, and carnage drear,
Of Flodden's fatal field,
But scarce again his horn he wound,
When, lo! forth starting at the sound,
From underneath an aged oak,
That slanted from the islet rock,
A damsel guider of its way,
A little skiff shot to the bay,
That round the promontory steep
Led its deep line in graceful sweep,
Eddying in almost viewless wave,
The weeping willow twig to lave,
And kiss, with whispering sound and slow,
The beach of pebbles bright as snow.
The boat had touch'd this silver strand,
Just as the Hunter left his stand,
And stood conceal'd amid the brake,
To view this Lady of the Lake.
The maiden paused, as if again
She thought to catch the distant strain.
With head upraised, and look intent,
And eye and ear attentive bent,
And locks flung back, and lips apart,
Like monument of Grecian art,
In listening mood she seem’d to stand,
The guardian Naiad the strand.
And ne'er did Grecian chisel trace
25 A Nymph, a Naiad, or a Grace, Of finer form or lovelier face! What though the sun, with ardent frown, Had slightly tinged her cheek with brown,